England beat great rival Australia by two runs in a Twenty20 thriller that went down to the final ball to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series on Friday.
Chasing 163 to win at the empty Rose Bowl, Australia collapsed from 124-1 after 14 overs to fall short on 160-6 in its first match of international cricket in six months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
After losing four wickets for nine runs off 14 balls, the Australians needed 26 runs off the final three overs, 19 off the final two and then 15 off the last, bowled by Tom Curran.
Marcus Stoinis hit a huge six over cover off the second ball to leave the tourists needing nine runs off four, but couldn't hit another boundary.
Australia was handed a brilliant start to the chase as captain Aaron Finch (46) and David Warner (58) shared a 98-run opening stand. Things started going downhill, though, after the loss of Steven Smith for 18 to make it 124-2 and Glenn Maxwell four balls later for 1, both falling to the spin of Adil Rashid.
"We knew England would keep coming hard," Finch said, "and we probably struggled to find the boundary in that 12- to 18-over mark. That's something to work on and that's not the first time it's happened, so as long as the boys keep learning and improve at it, lesson learned.
"There was plenty of stuff to be positive about. If you can separate the result and just look at it at individual points, I think there was some great stuff. Obviously it would have been ideal to get over the line, but England are a bloody good side."
"I think we just have to try to be a little bit smarter and work out how we're going to hit our boundaries," David Warner said of the failed chase. "We have to try to keep rotating strike and keep finding the boundary in those middle overs."
England eked out a total of 162 for 7 mainly thanks to Dawid Malan (66) and Jos Buttler (44). No other player reached double-figures, with Kane Richardson having figures of 2-13 and Maxwell getting 2-14.
"I thought we were 15 runs light," Malan said, "probably one partnership away from getting to 175-180."
It was the first time England has defended a target under 180 since 2016.
The top-ranked Australians hadn't played since mid-March when their scheduled ODI series against New Zealand was abandoned.
England can wrap up the series by winning the second match back at the Rose Bowl on Sunday.
1st Test, Galle, 16-18 Apr 2023
3rd T20I, Queenstown, 08 Apr 2023
Only Test, Mirpur, 04-07 Apr 2023
2nd T20I, Dunedin, April 05, 2023